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Cyberattack Hits German Copper Manufacturing Giant

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Critical Infrastructure Security

Aurubis Shuts Down IT Systems at Various Productions Locations(asokan_akshaya) o
October 31, 2022 Image: Aurubis

One of the world’s largest copper smelters says it underwent a cyberattack Friday night causing it to disconnect numerous systems from the internet. Production “could largely be maintained,” said Germany-based Aurubis.

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A statement from the company asserts the attack was “apparently part of a larger attack on the metals and mining industry.”

The company’s Hamburg facility is Europe’s largest, capable of refining 450,000 metric tonnes of copper annually – a capacity surpassed globally by only two other facilities, one in India and one in China. Aurubis also owns a facility in Bulgaria that can process 360,000 metric tonnes annually, show figures from the International Copper Study Group.

The company is relying on a manual administrative operations to sustain production while the full extent of the attack is investigation.

The International Copper Study Group in May downgraded anticipated 2022 growth in global usage of refined copper growth to 1.9 percent over 2021, attributing the revision to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and novel coronavirus lockdowns in China affecting manufacturing activity. China is the largest producer and consumer of refined copper.

The World Economic Forum predicts volatility felt over the past three years in copper prices to continue, partially due to a worldwide transition away from fossil fuels. Copper is a key component of renewable energy.

The London Metals Exchange announced Oct. 5 it will restrict deliveries of copper from Russia’s Ural Mining & Metallurgical Co. and a subsidiary after the United Kingdom sanctioned co-founder Iskandar Makhmudov. The exchange expects that fewer consumers will be willing to accept deliveries of Russian metal in 2023.

Ransomware also continues to be an ongoing threat to industrial organizations, with operational technology cybersecurity firm Dragos on Wedneday characterizing the encryption malware as “one of the most threatening financial and operational risks to industrial organizations worldwide.” Of the 88 ransomware attacks on the manufacturing sector Dragos could verify as occurring from July through September, metal products manufacturing constituted 14 percent of the total.

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